Sunday, May 19, 2013

Perfect Chewy Brownies

Chocolately, rich, and chewy with a shiny, crackly top - the perfect brownie.  I've made from-scratch brownies before, and they were good, but they are rarely the baked perfection one is longing for.  I've only found the sought-after perfection in a boxed mix, of all things, specifically Ghiradelli brownies.  You know the ones.  They're amazing.  I always figured, why bother making mediocre from-scratch brownies when I can have outstanding brownies from a box?

Until now.

Cook's Illustrated has done all the work and perfected the chewy brownie.  And they have a four page article on it.  That, my friends, is dedication.  They dissect every facet and figure out the best way to do it.

The first time I tried this recipe (months ago), the flavor was great, but the top wasn't shiny and crackly.  I'm certain it was a user error on my part.  But that held me back from making it again, all the better for my waistline.  However, I was getting itchy for an amazing brownie and figured I'd give it another shot.  And they came out absolutely perfect.  I had intended on bringing some to work, but then...just "forgot."  The husband and I were forced to eat them all.  Oops.  I made them a second time, and did bring some to work and it was quite fun to see everyone's reaction of pure awe and delight.

If you're looking for a healthy brownie recipe, I suggest looking elsewhere.  If you're looking for something amazingly-wonderful-perfect, then this is the brownie for you.  You may be tempted to add something to them - caramel, nuts, other bits of things.  DON'T.  There are other recipes that require that sort of dressing up, and this particular brownie is pure bliss because of its wonderful simplicity.

Go bake some!  Now!  And I won't tell if you sneak an extra five one.  They're worth it, I promise!

Perfect Chewy Brownies
(from Cook's Illustrated)
Makes 24 two-inch brownies

1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp instant espresso (optional, and I did not use it)
1/2 cup & 2 Tbsp boiling water
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped (a serrated knife works well for this)
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup & 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups white, granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (I used Ghiradelli bittersweet chips)

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 13 x 9 inch pan with foil or parchment paper.  Keep in mind you will have to lift the brownies out of the pan to cool, so leave some extra foil/paper on the edges for you to grab.  If using foil, spray with cooking spray.

Whisk cocoa, espresso powder (if using), and boiling water together in large bowl until smooth.  Add unsweetened chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted.  Whisk in melted butter and oil.  (Mixture may look curdled.)  Add eggs, yolks, and vanilla and continue to whisk until smooth and homogeneous.  Whisk in sugar until fully incorporated.  Add flour and salt and mix with rubber spatula until combined.  Fold in bittersweet chocolate pieces.

Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake until toothpick inserted halfway between edge and center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes.  Transfer pan to wire rack and cool 1 1/2 hours.  If your baking dish is glass, cool the brownies 10 minutes, then remove them promptly from the pan (otherwise, the superior heat retention of glass can lead to overbaking).

Using foil/paper overhang, lift brownies from pan.  Return brownies to wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour (yeah, right).  Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.

Leftovers  can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.



  1. Are these fudgy? I know the title says chewy but the pic looks like it might be fudgy. I like a tiny bit of chewy texture and a moist brownie.

    1. Yes, they are! They are the antithesis of a cakey brownie, so it sounds like it's just what you're looking for.

    2. I made this and my search for the perfect brownie is officially over. I am planning on making it again but the problem is that I am a chocoholic and will eat the whole thing myself for brkfst, lunch and dinner and a couple of times in between.